Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez (second from left) with interns and leaders from the Reentry Project.

Because many ex-offenders face homelessness during their reentry to the community, our Reentry Project addresses barriers, with a focus on access to housing and jobs.

The Reentry Project designed a housing pilot enacted in 2015 by the Chicago and Cook County housing authorities. The pilots allow select reentry service providers to certify 50 high-performing clients for access to subsidized housing. Instead of imposing a five-year wait, the housing authorities allow certified ex-offenders to access a housing unit or rejoin family that lives in subsidized housing.

The Reentry Project also pursues initiatives to allow ex-offenders to access job opportunities that help them rebuild their lives.

It is part of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), organized in 2015 with Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic, Community Renewal Society, and Heartland Alliance. RROCI advocates for policies that remove barriers for people in reentry, including lifetime employment bans. RROCI passed four job-access bills in schools, park districts and health care in 2016, and a record-sealing measure in 2017.

In its 2010 study, Barred from Housing, the Reentry Project asked the Chicago Housing Authority to end its automatic rejection of applicants who were on probation less than five years. Instead, CHA was asked to inform applicants that there is an appeal process available, and allow those who are denied to present a case that they have changed their lives. By 2013, the CHA adopted this appeals process, and the Reentry Project began to advocate the housing pilots. In 2016, Cook County’s housing authority adopted a similar process for use during the initial application phase.

The Reentry Project is managed by a steering committee of formerly incarcerated women and men, service providers, educators, and advocates.

For more information, contact Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez